Robert McDonald, head of the Department of Veterans Affairs, said Friday his agency had proposed some form of punishment for 300 people involved in a cover-up of long delays in patient care that was exposed last year.

His statement, which appears to contradict the VA's own internal data, came shortly before he encouraged people to "fact check" information about the agency.

A list of disciplinary actions the VA provided to Congress indicates just 24 employees have faced actual or proposed punishment in cases "involving patient wait time manipulation."

While the list does indicate nearly 300 people have been subject to actual or suggested discipline, most of them do not relate to the wait time scandal, as McDonald indicated.

"We've proposed disciplinary action against 300 individuals for manipulating scheduling," the VA secretary said during a luncheon at the National Press Club Friday.

Just a few minutes later, McDonald said he hoped the VA's numbers would be examined more closely.

"I'm always glad when veterans issues are raised, I just wish there would be more fact-checking on some of the numbers that are used," he said.

In some of the 24 cases cited on the disciplinary action list, employees implicated in the wait time scandal received a lighter punishment than what the VA initially proposed.

For example, a medical assistant who had been recommended for termination was merely suspended for less than two weeks. Similarly, a top health administrator was only demoted, even though the VA recommended termination.

Only three people have been successfully fired from the VA in the wake of the scandal, despite widespread national outrage.

VA officials were found to have created fake patient waiting lists in order to cover up long delays in care at government-run facilities. Dozens of veterans died while waiting for their appointments.

McDonald also refused to answer questions Friday about Hillary Clinton's controversial statement that Republicans have exaggerated problems at the VA.

"I told you we've made progress and we have more work to do," McDonald said in response to a question about the comments, prompting laughter from the audience.

McDonald touted some of the steps the VA had taken to improve internal problems and address veterans' needs, such as reducing homelessness among veterans and their families.

He said the Veterans Health Administration has added more than 15,000 new staff and expanded the size of its facilities.

Even so, McDonald noted the number of doctor's appointments that were not completed within 30 days has skyrocketed due to growing demand.

The VA secretary called on Congress to fund the agency's budget. Democrats in the Senate blocked the VA budget bill from proceeding last month in an effort to corner Republicans on budget negotiations. They reportedly removed their hold on the VA bill this week.